Friday, October 16
We were up very early this morning, as we had a two hour drive to the beaches of Normandy.
We went first to Arromanches, home of one of the D-Day landing beaches. In the days following the invasion, a huge floating harbor was erected in the bay. British engineers designed the harbor, called a mulberry, which consisted of massive concrete blocks, floating pier heads and floating roads. The materials were towed across the Channel and constructed here. With this, the Allies were able to unload 500,000 tones of materials. Some of the parts are still in the sea.
At the D-day Museum in Arromanches, we watched a video of the construction project before having lunch in town.
Our next stop was Pointe du Hoc, a German stronghold during WWII. At this site, the US 2nd Ranger Battalion scaled the 100 foot cliffs on the morning of June 6, 1944 to seize the position which controlled the landing approaches to Omaha and Utah beaches. Of the 225 rangers in the landing force, there were 135 casualties, leaving only 90 fighting men. The French erected the World War II Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument to honor the rangers.
We made a short stop at the site of the Omaha Beach landing. The large concrete monument commemorates the Allies landing here. The US suffered an estimated 6,600 casualties on D-Day.
The modern art metal sculpture on the beach is called Les Braves and was created for the 60th anniversary to honor the sacrifices of the Allied Forces soldiers who died in defense of tolerance and freedom.
Our last stop was at the American Memorial Cemetery. About 1/3 of the Americans who died in Europe during World War II are buried here – 9387 burials and 1557 missing in action. The US was the only Allied country to allow families to request that their loved one’s remains be shipped back home. There was a short ceremony at the memorial as the Star Spangled Banner and Taps were played – very emotional.
We returned in the dark just as we had left in the morning, tired yet grateful for the sacrifices our families had made in World War II.